Poem: Meditations on a Pawn Ticket by Henry Lawson

Let carrion conspire to damn my name,
The rocky roadway to enduring fame
I have explored, and I have paid the cost,
For one by one my chattels I have tossed
Unto the bandits who in ambush lurk,
And thrive so very well who seldom work.
Assistant porters agitate my hand,
And find me cushioned seat, nor make demand
Of cash, for in the pocket of my vest
I hold the passport to the regions blest.
For this, my badge of pride, I sniff disdain
On lazy men who failed to catch the train,
Who, groping for some priceless collar-stud,
Their passage lost, but found a deal of mud.
With much placidity I gaze afar
On one who, in his snorting motor-car,
Shutters the sunshine from his goggled face,
And strives to emulate my aƫrial pace.
For well I know how he is handicapped,
And drugged and stiffened and in luxury lapped.
And most profoundly do I guess his ire
When large tin-tacks rise up to burst his tyre;
Or when some guardian of celestial order
Disputes his right to scorch across the border.

And so, because I sit on Fortune's knee,
I call the guard; he with humility
Takes of my orders due delivery
That I (I mention pain and penalty
And special care for men like Carnegie)
Must not at any cost disturbed be.
I lodge complaint, for that there is a draught
Somewhere. I smite the man and vow him daft,
And bid him draw the blind, cover my shanks;
All this he does, and so, to earn his thanks,
I give him twopence; he forgets his scars,
And sings my praises to the blushing stars.
And now, to ponder o'er my present state,
I give me up to calmly cogitate.

My old friends, Crabbe and Dryden, I have pawned --
The gods know best, and often I have yawned
Their leaves among, and sought for louder lays
That voiced the tumult of existing days.
What of it? Is it not made manifest
That he who seeks the Muses with full zest
Shall be the coal of his own altar fire,
Or come to buying furniture on hire?
Why quarrel with the gods? Are they not good
Who hand us bills-of-fare for special food?
If all is "off," here is no need to question
Or search the plate for germs of indigestion.
You strutting merchant, who, with bellied girth,
Shadows the children's portion of the earth
In long obeisance to his goddess, Pelf,
First pawned his principles, and then himself;
And that his body pledge was little worth,
Aspires to pawn the country of his birth.

Victor, a speck of sunshine, now does flit,
And "Hamer," of the meditative wit --
And, maybe, "Kodak" one day joins the Throng
Where bailiffs never interrupt the song.
I, too, shall live on stews empyrean,
And so I scorch to heights Olympian,
Holding within the hollow of my hand
The precious passport to the Glory Land.

First published in The Bulletin, 21 May 1908

"Victor" is Victor Daley (1858-1905).
"Hamer" is Harold Mercer (1882-1952).
"Kodak" is Ernest O'Ferrall (1881-1925).

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on August 23, 2008 8:50 AM.

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